May l9th, 1867.
CALIFORNIA wines are coming more and more into favor here in the East, and are to be found on sale pretty much every where. I see the sign about as often as I see the signs for shoe stores or candy shops. The Catawba wines had a great hold on public favor several years ago, but it seems to be conceded now that all native American brands must yield precedence to the California wines.
Some of the wholesale California wine establishments here are quite extensive. One of the largest, if not the largest, is that of Messrs. Perkins, Stern & Co., which is the New York department of the Kohler & Frohling house in San Francisco. The two houses were formerly distinct from each other, but are united now. It looks like business, here, to go through their wine vaults, and see the mighty array of boxes, barrels, casks and hogsheads, all filled with California wines, and note the machinery they bring into play for handling it with facility and filling orders with alacrity.
Last year this house sold California wines to the amount of $250,000, and nearly as great an amount the year before. They say that this year the New York agencies will sell the whole California crop, and continue to do it every succeeding year with out fail. It is destined to become a very important article of trade, and the firm I speak of hope to get it all into their own hands eventually. It is certainly worth the effort.
NOT GOING TO PARIS?
The people are leaving here by ship-loads for France. It is a perfect exodus. Every sailing vessel goes out full, a thing which is a pleasant novelty to them, no doubt, for they have long been unused to it, and if you want to travel by the great steamer lines you must engage your state-room a month before hand and pay for it. The idea of the Exposition proving a failure, as was the talk a while back, is absurd, if other countries are rushing money and people over there as fast as we are doing. We are shipping ten and may be even twelve thousand persons a month from the port of New York alone, and if all our other ports together are doing half as much, America will have sent considerably over a hundred thousand persons to Europe, (chiefly to Paris,) this year before the time for travel in that direction is up. It is as much as I can do to scare up an individual who will acknowledge in a calm, unprejudiced manner that he is not going to Paris this year. I cannot begin to estimate the number of people to whom I have given the probable date of my arrival in the French capital, and who said I must hunt them up there. It is Wonderful! Thought I had run across about all acquaintances who were going, and yet when I took a lady friend down last Saturday, to ship her on the Ville de Paris, I found quite a number housed on board who never had said anything about going.
Mr. Brown, of whom you have heard, has come finally to consider the whole nation as packing up for emigration to France. He bought a handkerchief yesterday, and when the man could not make change, Brown said:
"Never mind, I'll hand it to you in Paris."
"But I am not going to Paris."
"How is - what did I understand you to say?"
"I said I am not going to Paris."
"Not going to Paris! Not g - well then, where in the very nation are you going to?"
"Nowhere at all."
"Not any where whatsoever? - honest Injun, now - not any place on earth but this?"
"Not any place at all but just this - stay here all summer."
I looked for an explosion here - a boisterous display of admiration on Brown's part, a wringing of the man's hand, and all that sort of thing. But nothing of the kind occurred. My comrade took his purchase and walked out of the store without a word - walked out with an injured look upon his countenance. Up the street apiece he broke silence and said impressively: "It was a low, mean, disgraceful lie - that is my opinion of it!"
NEW YORK WEATHER
Sometimes it makes me mad - sometimes it makes me fearfully mad - but as a general thing, I like it. When May dawned upon us, I said, behold there is no gainsaying that this is genuine spring-time, with a good two months margin to back it, and now of course we can shed our overcoats. That was three weeks ago, and yet, if I have seen one evening since then which could pass muster without an overcoat, and a heavy one at that, I have no recollection of it now. I went out to-night without one, and shivered all the way down town and shivered all the way back. It is wretchedly cold every night, and a good many of the days, too - most of them, I think. And, as for rain - well, it is California in winter all over again, and all the time; only with this difference, that there you know when it is going to rain, and here you don't know when it isn't. When it don't know anything else to do here, to put in the time, it rains. If you haven't got an umbrella, it rains. If you have got an umbrella, and leave it at home, it rains. You cannot keep it from raining in any way but just to carry an umbrella along with you all the time. The sun will dog you then until you are sick of it. If there was a cloud over head with fifty oceans of rain in it, then, it would go off and rain in Pennsylvania somewhere. These things aggravate me beyond measure, sometimes. I have got an umbrella at the Everett House. It is a very fine one. I bought it from a peddler to stop a thunderstorm with. He said he could recommend it because he got it of a man who had used it twelve years; but whenever it rains, I am a mile down town, and when I go up after my umbrella it always stops before I can get there. It has only rained once to-night; but there is nothing in that, it is probably just fixing.
And yet when you come to add it all up, this uncertain climate has its pleasant features. All life demands change, variety, contrast - else is there small zest to it. Here you have rain, snow, bleakness; but after it is all gone, what an imperial green all vegetation puts on! It is worth a winter of suffering to see the rich coloring even these city-bred trees and lawns robe themselves in. No feeble, dingy grass and dusty leaves, but dewy, dense, luxurious carpets, and a gleaming magnificence of foliage, fit to shelter the beloved of God in the bowers of Eden. And perhaps you know how sick one gets of the eternal fair weather of San Francisco, and how he longs for lightning, thunder, and tempest! how he feels as if he wanted to tear the glaring sun out of the sky, and blot the firmament with a purple pall, and cleanse it down from zenith to horizon with shafts of fire!
"Ah, me! this lifeless nature
Vexes my heart and brain;
Oh! for a storm and tempest,
And lightning, and wild, fierce rain."
I don't suppose I have quoted that right, because remembering verses is not my strong suit. It is good poetry, though, and carries well the idea of that impatient Egyptian wench, Cleopatra, who has grown tired of lolling in a hammock, gazing out upon a dreamy, listless summer landscape, and stirs herself up and gets off an explosion to the above effect.
You may sit in a New York restaurant in the morning for a few hours, and you will observe that the very first thing each man does, before ordering his breakfast, is to call for the Herald - and the next thing he does is to look at the top of the first column and read the "Personals." Such is the fascination mystery has for the human race! Your man has not the least idea in the world that there is ever going to be a Personal in the paper that will be of private individual interest to himself, and he knows very well that he cannot make head or tail of those he finds there, and that as a vehicle for fun they do not amount to much - yet, as I have said, he is bound to read those "Personals" the very first thing. There is such a toothsome flavor of mystery about them! It is the whole secret. The advertising public appreciate the value of a word under that "Personal" head, and many are the dodges they invent to get an airing for their wares there. But it don't succeed. The ingeniously-worded squibs are ruthlessly set aside and buried in the midst of solid cases of advertisements in the desert wastes of the paper, where a man might hunt them with a blood-hound and not find them. True, I have seen three of these dodges win, lately, but they never hinted at a single attraction in the matters they were meant to advertise - mentioned places of business - that was all - nothing but the barest mention. For instance:
"CAROLINE - Be in the same place, at Worrell Sisters' performance,
to-night. White rose, left temple. Do not fail, dearest.
"IF THE GENTLEMANLY MANAGER OF THE NEW YORK Theatre, who was smiled upon by a lady in the dress circle last night, and who was generously befriended by him in Philadelphia two years ago, will approach the footlights again to-night, he will recognize her by the lily in the parting of her hair."
And get smiled on again, likely, poor devil. Here is the third:
"THE LADY WHO LEFT A PAIR OF GLOVES AT MRS. MILLS' Mammarial Balm and Bust Elevator establishment, Washington place, can have them returned by calling or sending address."
I will bet a million dollars, seller ten, no deposit, that that advertisement read "Celebrated Mammarial," etc., etc., etc., originally, and the Herald people scratched it out. That worried Mrs. Mills, no doubt. It must have made the old bust elevator feel a little humiliated. [Which reminds me that I have not been through the mammarial bust establishments yet. I must make a note of that. I might as well go there and get busted as any where else.]
The "sick" kind of personals are very frequent. For in stance, this:
"BLACK EYES - OH, DEAR, HOW ANXIOUS I AM TO HEAR from you !
W. DE ANGELO."
"HENRY-DON T KILL ME. REMEMBER, FOURTH AVENUE car runs all night.
That is suggestive, to say the least. She don't want to be killed, but if he is determined to do it, why, he knows where she puts up, and the Fourth avenue car offers every facility for murder.
And how is this? '
"H. - HAVE RECOVERED FROM ACCIDENT. WILL SEE YOU at the old place
in Thirteenth street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, on Friday, at half-past
four, rain or shine.
EMMA FRANCIS W.
She calls it an accident. Well, accidents will happen, even in the best regulated families.
But this is the usual style, and altogether the most nauseating:
"SIX P.M., BLEECKER STREET CAR, UP FROM FULTON Ferry. Will the lady who was embarrassed in making change and was kindly assisted by a gentleman, whom she smiled upon and who smiled upon her and bowed when she got out, please address Harold, Herald office, stating where an interview may be had?"
There seems to be a pack of wooden-headed louts about this town, who fall in love with every old strumpet who smiles a flabby smile at them in a street car, and forthwith they pop a personal into the Herald, beseeching an "interview" - a favor they could have had with infinitely less circumlocution if they were half as full of gab as they are of self-complacency. And be hold, if a respectable woman dares to look at one of these by accident, or to see if he has got hind legs and a brass collar on, up comes the inevitable personal, with a lot of stuff in it about "the lady who kindly took notice of a gentleman," and so forth and so on, and the equally inevitable supplication for an "interview." Perdition catch these whelps! But how is this one?
"MR. WM. F. LAWLER, LATE LANDSMAN, U.S. NAVY, WILL call at 271 Broadway,
to receive some money.
CHIPMAN, HOSMER & Co.
That has got a very comfortable ring about it, after all that gruel and nonsense. Only a landsman in the Navy, yet they call him "Mr." Lawler? That appears to me to suggest that Lawler is to receive something more than a month's back wages. These Broadway firms do not call a plebeian Mr. without due and sufficient cause.
And here is a sad one; it tells its own story:
"MARY - COME BACK HOME, AND ALL WILL BE FORGIVEN. My old heart is
Many a New Yorker is proof against the seductions of the Cable's despatches, but none of them can resist the Herald's "Personals."
The Philadelphia Commercial List says that California will have exported 230,000 tons of flour and wheat during the statistical year which will end on the 30th of next month. This sounds like an astonisher to me, and I guess, on the whole, it isn't so. I know that California has been shipping flour to the States ever since I landed here, and I know, also, that I have heard four or five bakers and restaurant people say that they preferred California flour to any other, but when we come to talk about such figures as those I have quoted, I have to confess that I think some one has been imposing upon that Philadelphia paper. If that were all flour, instead of flour "and wheat," it would make two million and three hundred thousand barrels. I wish the statement were correct, because there is a fine opening here for flour, and I would like to see California prosper; and, besides, they cut their bread mighty thin in New York, and I would like it if something could induce them to liberalize the slices some.
Flour brings me easily and comfortably to the subject of hotels. New York has inaugurated a new fashion in the way of hotels - at least, it is new for America. She has adopted the European system: Room in the house and eat where you please. If you choose to eat in the hotel, very well. Ring for a servant, specify the dishes you want for breakfast, and by the time you are washed and dressed it will be on the table. And in the cheerfulest breakfast room you can imagine, too. Not a great public square in the second story, with an army of hyenas camped around you, grinding bones and clattering spoons and forks, but an elegant little apartment, richly furnished, glistening with burnished silver-ware and bright warm colors, a few little round tables clad in snowy cloths and garnished like a jeweller's window, and every thing quiet, and genteel and orderly. And you are on the main floor, too, and close to beautiful plate-glass windows, only one pane to the whole side of the house, (I stretched it a little, then,) and you can read your paper and sip your coffee and look out at the fellows caught far from home in the rain, and enjoy it ever so much !
That is the style. It is costly, but it is comfortable - prodigiously comfortable. The great caravan hotels do an immense transient business (try to get a room at one of them if you doubt it,) but when a man of good sound judgment gets ready to settle down and live and be happy, he goes to one of the dozen little palaces kept on the European plan.
I have got a flattering lot of invitations to lecture before various and sundry literary societies, but I have to forego the pleasure, and what is more, the profit, of complying, because literary contracts have got to be fulfilled, and I have got rather more of that kind of work (together with laying in cider and other supplies for the Mediterranean,) than I can get through with anyhow, between this and the 8th of June.
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